Mike posted an article involving sophisticated 3-D printing machines at lower cost for the population. Today the cheapest AM machine has a minimum price of $5000, and thus not readily available for the general population. There are hints that a metal laser sintering machine will have reduction in costs, however these costs will still probably be still high. The article describes two methods of expanding the availability of these printers and lowering their future costs. One is by developing materials and methods for use in existing consumer processes, such as FFF. One example,is by using the metal filler rod as a filament and an electric arc as the heat source. The other is by creating a process that integrates a proven technology into a low - cost system, such as leveraging existing inkjet technology into 3-D printing. Think about the application of this into the future. The majority of the population does not have access to basic service and basic materials. With a sophisticated and low-cost 3-D printer people will be able to buy cheap raw materials and print wrenches, forks, knives, plates, and basic necessity tools. Not mentioning that they can possibly print a house in the future and house objects like door parts, window frames, and beams.
Today I presented about 3-D printing in the medical field. Researchers from the University of Sydney and Harvard are developing 3-D printed blood vessels and tissues to be future implemented in patients. In the future, printing organs and printing limbs will be a good area of research for doctors who have ambition in expanding their research. The good thing about printing organs is that there will not be a great need for donors, reducing the risk of human fatality. Also imagine using this printer for replacing someone's arm of finger in the future. Possible reconstruction of muscles and bones are also a possibility. Using human tissue to heal and replace damaged parts are definitely an important step to cure several diseases and deformities in our bodies today.
You know, it is very interesting how 3-D printing is popular now a days. Before no one used to talk about it, nobody knew what exactly this "new" type of printer could do. In the present, people have been benefitted from aluminum parts with a precision of 2/1000in to composite materials fitting Boeing 747s. How to understand and process this new type of technology is still being digesting in society. For many people, printers mean printing paper with an ink, and to extreme cases, printing presentation projects. A lot of doubts come from the fact that solid and objects are now being printed from these machines, which sometimes require raw materials that are cheaper than a colored ink cartridge. Once this gets going and attractive to society, the horizons are infinite on what these machines can achieve -driven by of course people's needs. To be sitting on an office writing about how 3-D printers will change the world is like writing about airplanes 100 years ago. Questions like "will this thing be able to fly" or like "can it really be done" are always present and circulating day by day. How to explain the future? How to tell someone 10 years from now that reality will be so different from today? 20 years? 50 years? It is a hard question to solve, but certainly based on past experiences, we know the human kind is going forward in this area.
Link to article: http://www.explainingthefuture.com/3dprinting.html
NASA just experimented having a 3-D printer in space. Not only testing how microgravity affected the process, torque, strain, stress, and different physical process were analyzed and compared to a twin printer located on Earth. The main purpose of this printer will be to replicate parts in space and minimize costs involved in producing parts in the Space Station. To be honest, it is a brilliant idea of humanity in general, since not only the program is stimulating the 3-D printing futuristic technology, but also testing materials affected by different physical properties. Topics like involving vaccum bags in future printing processes and control of gravity for proper machine work are studied at a primitive but substantial level which will allow future astronauts to make less mistakes when they are more substantially dependent of the 3-D printed materials. Think about cases like printing a cup or even a space shuttle aluminum panel. Depending on how mastered the technology will be, everything is possible. The question is, how long will it takes us and how many mistakes will we have until we figure out how to print complex parts at a low and efficient cost.
When we talk about 3-D printing we often associate it with price. How cheap will these machines be, and how much will we able to profit from its products. In order to answer these questions we need to first realize what are the needs of the population and what materials their products require. Now a days metals are of high demand, where all sorts of parts with appropriate specifications are ordered and wanted throughout the industry. The biggest problem about having the right part for the right product is the cost of producing it and its demand for mass production. Some individual parts are so expensive that its production is not worth its selling price. Of course the scenario changes when there is a mass production for a diverse public, but it is oftenly an issue within this type of industry. That is why today 3-D metal deposition is so expensive and hard to find in the market, since the public is still skeptful of trusting this new technology and forgetting their suppliers old method of production. I sincerely believe that when there is a greater trust in metal additive manufacturing between clients and suppliers prices will go down to a point that the antique technology will be eventually extinct.
The UK has significantly focused on 3-D printing technoogy for its young school kids on a program called MakerBot. It is a very good strategy to employ the knoweledge of this new born technology still being studied by scientists today, since by growing up with it these kids will have a greater assimilation with these machines and be able to improve their processes. One of the methods that are used is teaching at a young age these students how to code and understand computer language, essential for programming a printer and setting up its settings. Today superficial programs like the Slicer and the printer interface are used in Rep Raps to produced simple PLS parts, however it is largely believed that 3-D printers in the future will dominate the technology of direct metal deposition. Coding is ultimately essential to set up the constraints and limitations of the product, improving not only the accuracy but also the efficiency of the energy and the material being used.
In this amazingly interesting article focused on 3-D printing of bio-degradable tissues to be used in the human body, the article can prove once more how the technology can be applied for medicinal purposes. In a first example a doctor is able to save a patients life by CT scanning his airway, creating a 3-D model of it, and then further printing it and inserting into the patient's body. Not only was this method more efficient due to the precision of the model but also the material used was easily adapted and accepted by the body. In another case a doctor scans the jaw of the patient and through a similar process prints a biodegradable part that will with time elongate and fix the person's jaw. Even though these are still simple and rare cases of the use of the technology for the medical field, these small steps in the medical field indicate how limitless and diverse 3-D printing is. As always the main issues involving all new technoogies are costs and mass production, and these are one of the reasons that constraint the medical field from deploying this to the general population. With time, these issues will be overcome, and the possibility of 3-D printing in the medical field can be astonishing, from like printing organs to printing limbs and new ears.
Now a days more and more companies are developing 3-D applications in the Aerospace Industry. This article demonstrates how diverse these areas can be and how little it is still used. For the first application BAE Systems is developing a potential method to print entire aricraft wings. Imagine being able to print these wings at a one shot process! Not only manufacturing costs would be lowered, but also there would be less risk of a wing failure. Some issues invoving internal stress leading to distortion may be solved by a repeatedly striking metal process that eliminates high chances of fracture. GE and Boeing are using this technology to develop full scale engines without the need to depend on a CNC machine. Due to high complexity of these engines it is a hard process to achieve the proper angles and clearances for a full-scale engine, however Strasys and AutoDesk collaborated to develop a model. The 3rd Aerospace application is having a useful 3-D printer for space applications. This will minimize the cost of having to bring material from Earth and at the same time have their needs met at a short time. Finally the use of 3-D printing UAV and also NASA's 3-D printing services may benefit society for cases when there is a natural disastaster in a remote area of the world and there is difficult acess to it. A service like this could be cheaper and could be used for mass production when helping affected areas.
YES! I finally found an amazing article. Banana is my favorite fruit, and this article talks about 3-D printed banana products. What the hell? Right! Well the only thing being pushed into the feed is the banana and some potatoe starch to hold it together. The 3digitalcooks is a blog that focuses on 3-D printing food products, and they are the ones that tried this experiment. It is amazing how some preocupations the guys who wrote the article had is by preventing the banana to become brown, which they suggest an ascorbic acid. Another topic the article touches is why to even print a banana product, since the fruit itself is already food. What I think is that the idea of 3-D printing banana is amazing and I will tell you why. Being able to decorate a banana pie with the right amount of filaments, an icecream, and also build a banana statue must be amazing. I am biased since it is my favorite fruit, but also the possibility of mixing the 3-D printed product with a variety of fruits to create a yogurt or a vitamin shake is also very attractive for people that are users of these products and are looking to diversify their eating habits.
Observing this article of printing a coin sorter, I see myself using the product they described. Being able to easily print this so needed application and yet at such a low costs bring a simple yet easy way of saving people a lot of money daily. Think about it, if you have one of these at your business/store or even at a small market fair booth it will save you minutes if not hours of business every day and a more efficient method of selling. We all know time is money and that being able to minimize change time means cutting the opportunity costs involved. Being able to cover 4 types of currencies such as the U.S. Dollar, the Euro, the Canadian Dollar, and the Swiss Franc so far, these models can be further adapted to cover several global currencies. Another great thing about his project is that simple plastic like material like PLS (the one we use in our classes) should do the job of resisting the weight and the contact with a large amount of coins. Either for your business or for doing laundry at a college apartment, this coin sorter will ease your life, save your time, and give you more opportunity to spend your time in being more productive or doing what you like.
This article is extremely interesting because it talks about the use of 3-D printing for Breast Cancer survivors. As we know Cancer is a terrible disease which kills millions of people per year, and the ones who survive are left with terrible scars. When women have breast cancer, they have to undergo surgery and sometimes several of them to remove the disease from the body completely. This may ultimately damage the esthetics of the breast, causing leaving their personal emotions affected. Using 3-D printing to create tissues, nipples, and fat grafts from the patient's cells, TeVido is reconstructing woman bodies and at the same time using this technology to innovate the medical field. They are now trying to print enough fat graft for plastic purposes as in breast augmentation and selection of color. Based on the progress of the firm and an increasing growing market, it is safe to say that Bio 3-D printing will definitely be a huge part of the medical field in the future, being able to reach a variety of patients with different type of cases.
Lily Su's Kickstarted campaign is trying to raise 5,000$ to print soap jewelry from fetus soap. During the process she initially uses the material to print the selected shape, a process very similar to other 3-D printed devices, and then with the right configurations and temperature prints her part. After printing multiple parts they are then combined to form a collar or a bracelet. Thinking about 3-D printed jewelry is a very interesting subject since it is a market where people are always seeking new products and fashion. Being able to compete against other soap jewelers with a higher technology can attract customers since clients can now easily design a part and submit it to the jeweler. Meeting client expectations without a high end technology can bring errors and less efficiency due to the amount of time taken to finish the product. If a jeweler masters this technology, it will be able to mass produce different types of jewelry according to each client requirements.
The first 3-D LED printer could print contact lenses. Researchers at the Princeton University are developing the technology that is already used in 2-D printing of phones and TV's, where the surface is flat. For the 3-D contact lenses, there are 5 layers which involve the bottom one being silver, two polymer layers and finally cathodes. They successfully printed Quantum dot LEDs, which are substantially flexible, transparent, and ultrathin. The impact of this technology could be in the medical field for doctors that require specific contact lenses for complex cases, as well as a mass production of the product. Another path the team is investigating is that in the future they want to 3-D print transistors. This would allow for more efficiency and lower cost production of electronic components, which will also be easily adjustable to specific circuits. One thing that is fascinating is how they manage to use different materials for each layer. 3-D printing a part which has a different composition of layers requires extreme precision and the calculation that extrusion of one layer will not affect the other one.
The US Army's Aviation and Missile Research and Engineering Center together with NASA and the University of Alabama at Huntsville are showing signs of a possible collaboration to use the 3-D printing technology to print missiles and weapons. This "Avengers" sort of idea if dominated will allow the USA to mass produce and create at a lower cost weapons that could be of great harm to society. If these weapons fall in the hands on of wrong people or if this technology is dominated, any country could use it to mass produce weapons. In the state of Texas they have 3-D printed the first AR-15, but the design was said to be taken down due to trade and import/export rules. Of course we are far from having people printing their own guns or missiles yet, but this is just an insight of how unpredictable the future may be.
Startup costs of acquiring 3-D printers are high. Because now a days there is a lot of startup companies in the technology and engineering side, they usually have a limited budget and have to chose precisely what to acquire so that they can be efficient in spending their money. They have to closely overlook in how acquiring this technology can benefit them. Today the R&D engineers and manufacturers are the main employees which chose to adopt this technology for product development. Now a days, prototyping represents 24% of the printer's use while product development 16%. It is believed that by 2018, almost 50 percent of consumer, heavy industry and life sciences manufacturers will use 3D printing to produce parts for finished products. Ultimately, it is now a high startup cost to implement this technology in industry because it is in the development process and is yet not widely adopted and accepted by all industries. A lot of testing and modification is being done for new materials and methods, and there is not yet a lower cost for its implementation. What I think? I think 3-D printing will produce 100% of the product in the future, without the need of human aid. Eventually 3-D technology will be developed such that startups will be able to acquire these products at a lower cost and implement it in several unexplored areas.